MILWAUKEE, Wis. - The Cleveland State University women's soccer team had the best season in program history end one win shy of an NCAA Tournament berth as top-seeded and host Milwaukee claimed a 1-0 victory in the Horizon League Tournament championship Saturday evening at a cold Laura Moynihan Field at Engelmann Stadium.
It was the first-ever appearance in a League championship match for the Viking program. CSU won a single-season school record 11 games in head coach Dallas Boyer's second season at the helm. Cleveland State also set a single-season school record for League wins and finished with seven victories against HL foes this season.
The Vikings proved to be equal to the Panthers in many phases of the match. The teams were deadlocked in shots (13-13) and shots on goal (4-4) while Cleveland State took all seven corner kicks in the match.
Neither team had a shot in the opening 15 minutes as both teams looked to figure out the other. Milwaukee took the first shot of the match in the 18th minute, but it was well wide.
The Vikings soon had a few decent looks in the final third. In the 20th minute, senior Dani Sowinski drew a foul with her hustle tracking back after the Vikings had initially lost the ball. Senior McKenna Vento sent in a dangerous ball to the back post, but no Viking could get on the end of it.
Soon thereafter, Sowinski played a centering pass from the right wing to Krause, who hit a back heel pass in rhythm to freshman Ja'Maya Ward, but her effort was blocked.
In the 27th minute, Ward played Vento forward into the offensive half. Vento's first touch sent her running down the left flank. Krause was able to reach Vento's cross into the box, but a tough angle forced a shot that was saved.
A couple minutes later, a long free kick by Milwaukee fell to a Panther about 12 yards in front of goal, but the shot was sent well over the bar.
Sophomore Stevie Holbrook came up big in the 43rd minute to ensure the match entered the half scoreless. With two Milwaukee players close in the box, she dove to intercept a cross just in time to prevent a Panther from having an open look at goal.
The Vikings had a couple good looks early in the second half but could not find a goal. In the 53rd minute, Canady stopped a Panther counter to perfection and then played forward to Krause. Krause's first touch sent her sprinting by a Panther as she ran down the right flank and into the box, but her shot was stopped at the near post.
A couple minutes later, Sowinski got down the right flank and cut toward the box before laying off to Krause. Her left-footed effort sailed wide of the far post.
Milwaukee got the game's only goal in the 57th minute when a free kick was pumped long into the box. The Vikings were unable to deal with the dangerous ball, and it found its way into the net in the far post.
Cleveland State pushed numbers forward as the match wore on but was unable to find an equalizer.
Krause had a match-high six shots, two of which were on frame. Holbrook made three saves in the match.
The Vikings had advanced to the title match courtesy of a 2-1 semifinal win over Detroit Mercy. CSU had claimed the second seed after the regular season, its highest-ever finish in a League table.
Sowinski's nine assists were a single-season school record while her 14 in her career leave her second all-time at CSU.
Krause's team-leading 17 points were fourth-highest in single-season school history while her seven assists tied for second.
Vento finished with a team-leading six goals while her 12 for her career tied her for fifth all-time.
Along with Sowinski and Vento, seniors Carly Cerny, Toni Dickson, Morris and Ashley Thiss spent the past four seasons as Vikings. The group tied the most wins over a four-year stretch (33) in program history.